“We must travel across lonely and rugged terrain, through isolation and silence, to reach the magic zone where we can dance an awkward dance or sing a melancholy song.” ~ Pablo Neruda

The Night Sky by Eric Hines (found on Universe Today)

                   

“Life is heavier
than the weight of all things.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Neighbor”

Sunday afternoon. Overcast, intermittent showers, mid 60’s.

Feeling quite low, sensing an impending fall. Thoughts are running all over the place, so instead of linear, I shall merely convey mixed musings for a Sunday afternoon:

  • I have come to realize that I shall die with my heart placed firmly upon my sleeve, bruised and battered for all the world to see.
  • Given a choice between wide, sweeping stairs and narrow ones, I will choose wide ones. Between straight and curved? Curved.
  • I am deeply moved by images depicting a man and woman kissing.

    Night Sky (featured in Scientific American 2-25-08)
  • Show me two pictures of skies, one blue and one with a coming storm, and I will gravitate immediately towards the impending storm.
  • Sometimes black and white speaks so much louder than color; hence, my fascinations with zebras. I think that they are truly beautiful animals. I love everything about the way that they look, but I know nothing about them.
  • Probably because I have been terribly nearsighted most of my life, sound affects me more than sight. Music can bring me to tears faster than an image.
  • Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Mozart. How did they do it? Did they imagine they were hearing the universe?
  • I have an immediate gut reaction to images of large cliffs and water. It’s as if my psyche senses a kinship to such places.
  • Sunrise or sunset? Sunset, always sunset.
  • Sunlight or moonlight. Moonlight. Night skies. Infinity. Corey says that he has never seen such night skies as those from the middle of the ocean.

“What do we know about the postulates, the basic rules of remaining faithful to life? We write afternoon instead of early evening, Geneva instead of Prague; one omits to betray an uncertainty . . . So there is nothing for it but to accept the fragmentation and the superficiality and the emptiness, and with each journey to restrict oneself as precisely as possible to what can be written, faithfully, about reality.” ~ Daniel Robberechts, Arriving in Avignon

I hate days like these, days in which I can feel my heart beating and every sound seems to permeate my senses. I hate it because in this state, it’s not an appreciation but an intrusion.

  • I know that I’m not alone, but that knowing does nothing to reduce the sense of aloneness.

    Somerset Night Sky: View over St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury, UK
    by Ben Birchall (guardian.co.uk)
  • Not loneliness, aloneness. Not solitude, which is a second skin, but more an alienation, but from what?
  • What keeps me from actively pursuing the path that I have wanted for as long as I can remember? Fear.
  • I hate fear, hate being afraid, hate my trepidation.
  • I do not abide cowards, so why do I tolerate it in myself?
  • Honor. Bushido. Big talk. Why does it seem so important?
  • I have no idea as to why I filled yesterday’s post with tulips.

“There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Today’s poem is quite long, and I thought about just using a part, but it didn’t feel right to do so.

  • I move through life attributing human characteristics to everything: fish, dogs, frogs. I do not find this odd.
  • I was probably a canine in another life. I do not find this odd either.

    Night Sky by Jim Richardson (featured in National Geographic 11-08)
  • Things I thought about pursuing: oceanography, medicine, law. I only regret not pursuing oceanography.
  • I still remember the lead paragraph to a story that I wrote for a newspaper article a lifetime ago.
  • My last religious epiphany: Maundy Thursday, years ago, sitting in an empty church, reciting the Apostle’s Creed over and over again.
  • I have no explanation for what happened that day.
  • It has never happened again.
  • Real mystery begins and ends in the stars.

“There are things we know by heart,
and things we don’t.” ~ Andrea Gibson, from “Birthday”

Images I cannot erase from my mind:

  • Caitlin lying on a hospital bed, so small, surrounded by white. White noise the backdrop to all my days.
  • A naked child running from napalm.
  • A homeless man holding his dog, the sadness more palpable in the dog’s eyes than the man’s.

    Mars in the Night Sky, 2003 (nasm.si.edu)
  • My father sitting in the back of a car, sideburns.
  • Hundreds of pigeons in Trafalgar Square, completely unafraid of the people.
  • The flapping sails on my friend’s catamaran, the smell of the bay.
  • A child with a small ball on an elastic string, the ball moving back and forth as the child walks down the dirt road beneath the relentless Philippine sun.
  • The child is me.
  • Lying in a hammock on a summer afternoon. Alexis asleep on my chest. The sunlight dappled through the leaves of the oak tree. One perfect afternoon.

“But dreams come through stone walls, light up dark rooms, or darken light ones, and their persons make their exits and their entrances as they please, and laugh at locksmiths.” ~ Joseph Sheridan, Le Fanu

My family converses in onomatopoeia: jibby-jabby, thingy . . . it all makes sense to us.

  • I continue to dream of the large attic room filled with antiques over which I have been given charge. The woman who owns them is a museum board member.
  • Each time I dream of this room, I am trying to steal something from it, but I never succeed.

    Beauty of the Night Sky by Eric Hines
    (featured in National Geographic)
  • I dream of a tall man with blond hair, a lawyer. I do not know this man.
  • I dreamt of little people flinging themselves off a building.
  • In my dream, I do not recognize my eyes; then I realize that I am wearing false eyelashes. I don’t know how they got there.
  • I seldom seem afraid in my dreams.
  • Last night I dreamed of my mother and father together: They were dressed to go out for the evening. Then my father said that he was going by himself. My mother got out of the car resigned.
  • I think that I’m just looking for a place to land.

“Now I know a language so beautiful and lethal
My mouth bleeds when I speak it.” ~ Gwendolyn MacEwen, from “But

Recurring phrases:

  • tears, idle tears
  • do I dare to eat a peach?
  • I shall be a pair of ragged claws

    Solar Eclipse in China (2009)
    by Wan Peng (featured in guardian.co.uk)
  • tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
  • the waves beat back
  • water of life
  • such stuff as dreams are made of
  • the sorrows of her changing face
  • green rooms like lit glass
  • the heart is an organ of fire

“The mind was dreaming. The world was its dream.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “The Circular Ruins”

Arch of the Milky Way over Argentina
by Luis Argench (featured in National Geographic 2012)

Lines from poems I have yet to write:

  • Can it be that I am alive still
  • Who will write my epitaph, the lines of my life
  • Such a fulgent lie
  • When night’s darkness comes too slowly
  • We are all fools and beggars
  • In motley, I shall slay no dragons
  • Proust was wrong
  • In that moment between sleep and wake
  • I cannot, I said.

Peace.

Music by Gareth Dunlop, ‘Trick of the Moonlight”

                   

Birthday

For Jen

At 12 years old I started bleeding with the moon
and beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts.
I fought with my knuckles white as stars,
and left bruises the shape of Salem.
There are things we know by heart,
and things we don’t.

At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke.
I’d watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos,
but I could never make dying beautiful.
The sky didn’t fill with colors the night I convinced myself
veins are kite strings you can only cut free.
I suppose I love this life,

in spite of my clenched fist.

I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree,
and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers,
and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath
the first time his fingers touched the keys
the same way a soldier holds his breath
the first time his finger clicks the trigger.
We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.

But my lungs remember
the day my mother took my hand and placed it on her belly
and told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister’s heartbeat.
And I knew life would tremble
like the first tear on a prison guard’s hardened cheek,
like a prayer on a dying man’s lips,
like a vet holding a full bottle of whiskey like an empty gun in a war zone…
just take me      just take me

Sometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much,
the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood.
We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways,
but you still have to call it a birthday.
You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recess
and hope she knows you can hit a baseball
further than any boy in the whole third grade

and I’ve been running for home
through the windpipe of a man who sings
while his hands playing washboard with a spoon
on a street corner in New Orleans
where every boarded up window is still painted with the words
We’re Coming Back
like a promise to the ocean
that we will always keep moving towards the music,
the way Basquiat slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain.

Beauty, catch me on your tongue.
Thunder, clap us open.
The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks.
Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert,
then wake us washing the feet of pregnant women
who climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun.
I know a thousand things louder than a soldier’s gun.
I know the heartbeat of his mother.

Don’t cover your ears, Love.
Don’t cover your ears, Life.
There is a boy writing poems in Central Park
and as he writes he moves
and his bones become the bars of Mandela’s jail cell stretching apart,
and there are men playing chess in the December cold
who can’t tell if the breath rising from the board
is their opponents or their own,
and there’s a woman on the stairwell of the subway
swearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn,
and I’m remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrun
with strip malls and traffic and vendors
and one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it.

Ya’ll, I know this world is far from perfect.
I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.
I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.
But every ocean has a shoreline
and every shoreline has a tide
that is constantly returning
to wake the songbirds in our hands,
to wake the music in our bones,
to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave river
that has to run through the center of our hearts
to find its way home.

Andrea Gibson

“It is the bruises that allow us to recognize the value of the discovery.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Those Who Dance . . .*

                   

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

Sunday afternoon. Chilly and cloudy.

Surf Near Eyries on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland

I awoke with a migraine, this after not falling asleep until well after 4 a.m. Not the best night.

I dreamed about a neighbor’s yard sale in which couches of all kinds were spread across the lawn for sale. As I moved among the couches, I began to encounter pianos of all ages and in various states. Most of the couches were ugly, and most of the pianos were beautiful. It was a strange dream.

Corey is just coming off a double shift (16 hours straight), so I imagine that he will be going to bed after spending a little time playing with Tillie. All three dogs had baths yesterday so that we could administer flea medicine before fleas become a problem; living so near a marsh, fleas abound in this area. Shakes always has the worst time with any kind of biting insect, but today he is already noticeably scratching less.

I have two upcoming doctors’ appointments this week, but I will have to postpone both as the input of cash did not stretch far enough for the output demands. Hate it when that happens.

And yes, I will freely admit it: I watched the royal nuptials, and realized a few things: I am old enough to remember the wedding between Diana and Charles (hated that dress), and the princes being born, and the new Duchess’s dress had the same Queen Anne neckline and Chantilly lace that my first wedding dress had. Was she retro, or was I ahead of my time?

“Today I’m mixed up, like someone who thought something and grasped it, then lost  it.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Peak

So I haven’t really moved beyond this downturn in my mood, and the fact that this computer is really acting up today is not helping anything. For example, the poem excerpt that I have included below—I’m searching on key lines to find the title of the poem, not just the title of the book, but I’m getting absolutely nowhere. I hope that I am able to post without going through hours of aggravation. I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens.

I think that part of it is that I’m having lots of work dreams again, and in these dreams my consciousness always interrupts and says you can’t be working because you’re on disability. I’ve done this again and again in my dreams: gone back to one of my former jobs, not told anyone that I was on disability, lost my benefits. It happened again last night.

And then I remember all of those years while I was working, and I wished so badly that I didn’t have to work so that I would have the time to write. Yep. See how that’s working out for me?

Do I even know what I’m saying? Probably not.

Mother’s day is coming up, and to be truthful, I’m approaching it with a sense of dread, a sense that something is going to happen. You see, several years ago after Alexis graduated and before she was dating Mike, she spent about half a year living with various friends, sometimes sleeping in her car because she didn’t want to have to follow any rules.

Then when Mother’s Day came, and I was certain that I wouldn’t hear from her, I came home and found a long letter from her in which she apologized for how she had been acting. I called her and asked her to come back home. I don’t want one of those letters this year, mostly because I don’t want to have to react, don’t know how I would react.

This whole situation gives me such angst. If I can keep myself from dwelling on it, I find that I am better.

“A room is, after all, a place where you hide from the wolves.  That’s all any room is.” ~ Jean Rhys, from Good Morning, Midnight, 1939

Surf Running: Oregon Coast Storm November 2009

I’ve been thinking about Belgium. Don’t know why really other than it seems that it would be a lovely place to live or at least, to visit, near France without being in France. Of course, I know nothing about Belgium other than what I see in pictures.

Do you know what I really want at this moment? I want windows. How very boring of me, right? You see, our windows are very old storm windows, and most of the screens are gone or torn, which means that opening windows on a day such as today is worthless; the lack of screens means that all kinds of flying critters could come in. Not being able to open the windows means that I cannot sit on my bed and read while enjoying a fresh breeze.

I used to love morning breezes that made the curtains sway ever so slightly, the scents from the roses and the jasmine wafting in subtly on the breeze. I miss that.

It’s such a simple thing; I know, but I miss many simple things. I miss our drives to the Outer Banks when the boys were young, how we would spend Sundays on the beach, climbing the dunes, having dinner and then driving home tired and sandy. Of course, I miss the boys being boys and not the young men they are now, with their own lives, their own favorite things to do that have nothing to do with me or Corey.

I miss so much and so little that it’s hard to discern between the two. Is my longing to be back in front of a classroom a small or a big thing? My dreams of pianos, which I have been having of late, do they signify my longing to get back to playing Chopin and Beethoven, or is it just the idea of sitting at the piano that I miss?

I miss friendship on a daily basis, friendship with Mari, our lunches together at the cafeteria, sitting in her back yard in the Adirondack chairs, drinking tea or Lime Rickeys, talking about everything.

I miss: such a powerful phrase, loaded with meaning and intent.

“And more and more my language appears to me like a veil which  one has to tear apart in order to get to those things (or the nothingness) lying behind it.” ~ Samuel Beckett, The Letters

No Fear

So many words, so many possible interpretations.

When Corey and I first married, we had such plans to do so many things. Some of them we have done, yet so many are yet to be realized. Our tenth anniversary is in two weeks. We’ve been together eleven years. But the reality is that the past three years have been to a great extent years of being on hold, waiting for circumstances to change, to get better, so that we can . . . fill in the blank here.

Life on hold isn’t living, not really. And I fear that both of us have become so used to living this way that we have become gun shy, hesitant to bank on too much for fear of yet again being unable to make the dream a reality. This isn’t living; it’s existing, and that isn’t how it was supposed to be.

So many things beyond our control on which to affix the blame, and then how much of the blame is ours? I fear that we have become inured to hardship, so much so that we have begun to forget how to dream. That saddens me more than I can begin to express.

I know that I wear my heart upon my sleeve; that is quite obvious by the things that I write here, that I put out into the ether for general consumption. I have always been this way, but that’s not to say that it is a good thing as I know that it can be painful, that it can feed that pain. This is why I chose the particular passage that I did to accompany this post: at times, I am like Hamlet: both melancholy and in need of vengeance, the two opposing emotions constantly at battle.

But at times I feel that I am also like Prospero in Shakespeare’s Tempest, stranded on an island for so long that my vision has become occluded, in the midst of a storm of my own creation, with some of my books and a daughter who longs to know who she is. Past is prologue . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Lizz Wright, “When I Fall”

                   

Do you, like Hamlet, dread the unknown?
But what is known? What do you really
know
Such that you can call anything “unknown”?
Do you, like Falstaff,
love life with all its fat?
If you love it so materially, then love it even
more materially
By becoming a bodily part of the earth and of
things!
Scatter yourself, O physicochemical system
Of nocturnally
conscious cells,
Over the nocturnal consciousness of the unconsciousness of

bodies,
Over the huge blanket of appearances that blankets
nothing,
Over the grass and weeds of proliferating beings,
Over the atomic
fog of things,
Over the whirling walls
Of the dynamic void that’s the
world . . .

~ Fernando Pessoa, from A Little Larger Than the Entire  Universe

                   

*All pictures in this post used with permission from russell.tomlin, whose pictures can also be found on Solitary Vision